Critical Mess: McNally Calls Platt Overweight; Cuozzo Calls McNally Big, Fat Crybaby

Critical Mess Critical Mess: McNally Calls Platt Overweight; Cuozzo Calls McNally Big, Fat CrybabyLast week, Manhattan restaurateur Keith McNally took restaurant critic Adam Platt to task on a VERY personal level, attacking his appearance, after Platt penned a lackluster review of McNally’s latest venture, Pulino’s (where former A16 chef Nate Appleman now works). In an open letter to the New York Magazine scribe, McNally calls him “out of touch,” “balding,” and “overweight.” He also accuses Platt of inhabiting a middle-aged world. It should be noted that McNally is almost 59 years old, which is technically far beyond middle age (unless he lives to 116), so perhaps his remark wasn’t ageist so much as envious.

In the past two days, New York Post critic Steve Cuozzo sprung to his counterpart’s defense, telling McNally to “shut his yap,” while, elsewhere, restaurateur Tony May, of SD26, noted his displeasure with New York’s restaurant critics. In contrast to McNally, however, May kept things strictly professional, positing that many critics do not understand “the true flavors of Italian cuisine.” Meanwhile, Eater NY took a look at the scorecard for newish restaurant critic Sam Sifton of The New York Times, analyzing his first seven months of reviews, for fairness and trends.

Finally, the Los Angeles Times, known for its fine food criticism, looks at the skills it takes to be an astute-yet-svelte restaurant critic. After all the recent name-calling, is this a job anyone even wants?

U.K. Restaurant Manager of the Year: Congratulations to David Hennigan

UK Restaurant Manager 2010 U.K. Restaurant Manager of the Year: Congratulations to David Hennigan
Photo: Courtesy of Eat Out Magazine

David Hennigan, manager of the Crown at Whitebrook and Celtic Manor, has been chosen as the 2010 U.K. Restaurant Manager of the Year. The competition, sponsored by OpenTable, is run by the Academy of Food & Wine with support from the National Skills Academy for Hospitality and the Savoy Educational Trust, aims to identify “the person who has all the skills required to be a top class restaurant manager — great business acumen, loads of personality and confidence, the ability to get on with people, and a thorough knowledge of the trade.”

Besting five other very worthy finalists, Hennigan had to prove his skills in wine tasting, wine pairings, management, menu assessment, and front-of-house service. He then had to submit a business plan for a restaurant launch, which impressed the judges for its financial soundness.

For his efforts, Hennigan has won a study-tour week in New York, during which he will complete a stage at one of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group properties. The Crown at Whitebrook will receive a complimentary 12-month subscription to the OpenTable reservation system. You can read more about Hennigan’s win in Eat Out Magazine.

Jenny McCarthy Spotted at Katsuya; Kate Gosselin Waltzes into RockSugar

Recent sightings of famous and infamous folks…

* San Francisco steakhouse Epic Roasthouse hosted cute new couple Lance Bass (*NSYNC) and Kyan Douglas (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”). [Tablehopper]

* Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody (The Pianist) avoided a fervid fan while tucking into a steak with this father at Benjamin Steakhouse in the Big Apple. [NYDN via GrubStreet NY]

* Pacific Heights bistro Florio served musician T-Bone Burnett his supper on a recent Saturday night. No word on if he had to sing for it. [Tablehopper]

* Hoda’s “Today” show cohost Kathie Lee Gifford lunched at Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse with fellow NBC empoyee Cheyenne Jackson (“30 Rock”), having a bit of bubbly to boot. [NY Post]

* Former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant and reality star Kate Gosselin dined with bodyguard Steve Nield at Los Angeles restaurant RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen. [US Magazine]

* Fashionista Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”) noshed on steak au poivre at David Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel in Chicago. [Chicago Tribune]

* New York Knick Al Harrington helped fete the fifth anniversary of The Stanton Social with Common and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) in Manhattan’s hip Lower East Side. [NY Post]

* Josh Hartnett (Wicker Park) attended a birthday celebration at Brinkley’s. [Page Six/NYP via GrubStreet NY]

* Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy) lunched at Little Dom’s in LA’s funky Los Feliz neighborhood. [People.com]

Former tennis pro (and g.f. to singer Enrique Iglesias) Anna Kournikova toasted her turn as Capitol File cover girl at Oya in the nation’s capital. [US Magazine]

* Singer Avril Lavigne and her beau, reality-TV personality Brody Jenner, enjoyed a late supper at Katsuya Brentwood. [Us Magazine]

Tabloid fave (and Lavigne nemesis) Lindsay Lohan celebrated Mother’s Day with her family at Abe & Arthur’s in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district. [NYP/Page Six via GrubStreet NY]

* Newly single Jenny McCarthy and a mystery man shared some sushi at Katsuya in Los Angeles. [Us Magazine]

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Top Restaurant Complaints: Really?

Top Complaints Top Restaurant Complaints: Really?Detroit Free Press writer Slyvia Rector gathered a list of common complaints diners have when visiting a restaurant. Frankly, I was shocked by what I read. Not because they were controversial, but because they seemed so banal (and petty). The top complaint of all was regarding diners being addressed as “you guys.” While this probably isn’t appropriate (or heard) at a white-tablecloth restaurant, if you’re elsewhere — say at a BBQ joint — is that truly offensive?

Other trespasses include servers who ask if diners need change when they’ve paid their bill, checks that are brought too soon, and the use of “the same dirty cloth all over the dining room.” The first two offenses probably depend on the volume of diners at a restaurant and, again, whether or not it’s a fine-dining establishment. The latter, however, is a problem of perception over reality. Every restaurant I’ve worked at, high and low-end, has had a bevy of bain maries filled with water and bleach, each with towels in them. It may have looked like there was one cloth on duty on any given evening, but, rest assured, there were many and they were returned to their bleach-y water after each use.

I had expected to read more grumbling about prices, portion size, waiting too long for an order to be taken or for food to arrive, lighting — and even temperature. So let’s hear it! What are you biggest complaints when dining out? Shout ‘em out here or share your gripes with your fellow Facebookers.


‘Top Chef’ Washington, D.C.: Meet the Cast of Season 7

Top Chef 2010 Top Chef Washington, D.C.: Meet the Cast of Season 7Bravo announced the eagerly anticipated cast list for the forthcoming season of Top Chef. The show’s seventh season will include cheftestants from many restaurants on the OpenTable network.

* Amanda Baumgarten, 27, hails from Los Angeles, where she currently cooks at Ford’s Filling Station. She has a flair for butchering and loves to cook meat on the bone. Her favorite recipe is roasted baby lamb with pomme cocotte persillade.

* Tracey Bloom, 33, grew up in Shortsville, New York, and now works in Atlanta, Georgia, as executive chef at Table 1280. She attended the Culinary Institute of America, becoming an expert in the sweet and savory side of culinary arts. Her favorite recipe is English pea salad.

* Boston’s own Ed Cotton, 32, is executive chef at Manhattan’s newly opened Plein Sud in Tribeca’s stylish Smyth Hotel. His favorite recipe is fresh farm egg ravioli with a silky English pea puree, spring onion fondue and crispy pancetta, and he loves to serve rabbit.

* Raised in the nation’s capital, Timothy Dean, 39, is the chef-owner of Prime Steak House in Baltimore, Maryland. He trained at Howard University and with the late, great chef, Jean-Louis Palladin. His favorite dishes are Maine lobster with mac & cheese and shaved black truffles and pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras with rhubarb and 20-year-old Port wine sauce.

* Don’t mess with Texas chef Tiffany Derry. She started earning her toque at an IHOP before attending culinary school at The Art Institute. Executive Chef at Go Fish Ocean Club in Houston, Derry, 26, always keeps Dijon, Creole mustard, champagne vinegar, kosher salt and Creole seasoning on hand, and her favorite recipe is spring risotto.

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Britain’s Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining

The Times Online released a round-up of the best restaurants to grab an al fresco bite in and around London this summer. Included on the list are Auberge du Lac, The Brudenell Hotel, Ferryboat Inn, The Hoste Arms, and The New Mill. Read the full round-up and compare it to the OpenTable Diners’ Choice winners for outdoor dining in London.

Noisy Restaurants Prove Unappetizing for Some Diners

Noisy restaurants Noisy Restaurants Prove Unappetizing for Some DinersSan Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer understands that not every diner can (or wishes to) tolerate noisy restaurants. In his ratings, in fact, you’ll find a special category that addresses noise levels, such as this from his recent review of Ristobar: “Noise rating: BOMB; Too noisy for normal conversation (80+ decibels).” (He very much enjoyed the food, however.) Likewise, Washington Post reviewer Tom Sietsema began rating noise levels in restaurants two years ago, writing, “More than bad food, more than tipping quandaries, more than someone wondering if a free meal should follow a rodent sighting in a dining room, the most frequent concern I get from readers involves loud restaurants.”

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Aldino’s in Chicago; Boston’s Menton; Hibiscus in Oakland; and Other New Reviews

Reviews and previews of restaurants on the OpenTable network…

* Diners will like the “mom-and-pop touches” at Aldino’s in Chicago, says Phil Vettel. [Chicago Tribune]

* Denver restaurant reviewer Tucker Shaw revisits a restaurant a second time for the first time, and he finds Black Pearl to be a true “gem.” [Denver Post]

CAV Winebar and Kitchen chef John Maher is a star, according to Michael Bauer.[SF Gate]

Elements Kitchen in Pasadena has “all the elements of success,” according to S. Irene Virbila.[Los Angeles Times]

* Carol Ness calls Oakland restaurant Hibiscus “fine dining that’s fun.” [SF Gate]

* New New York City restaurant Leona’s, located in The Helmsley, promises to offer “the best service in the city.” [The New York Times]

* Sam Sifton calls The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges “a welcome addition” to New York’s Upper East Side. [The New York Times]

* Patrick Main digs the scene and the food at Menton, Barbara Lynch’s latest Boston restaurant. [WeeklyDig.com]

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OpenTable for Nokia Is Now Available for Symbian S60 5.0 touch Devices

We are pleased to announce that OpenTable for Nokia is now available on Ovi Store by Nokia, allowing diners to reserve tables instantly and for free at thousands of restaurants in the UK, U.S., Canada and Mexico. Key features include the ability to:
* Find restaurants around your current location with availability and book on the spot
* Refine search results by cuisine, price and points
* Read fresh and relevant reviews by recent OpenTable diners
* Manage upcoming reservations
* Send SMS messages with reservation details to the rest of your dinner party
OpenTable for Nokia is available  for Symbian S60  5.0  touch device users residing in the UK, U.S., Canada and Mexico. Users of non-touch Nokia devices such as the Nokia E72 will be able to download the app in the coming weeks.
OpenTable for Nokia is the company’s latest smartphone application, following the releases of applications for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm.

Nokia1 OpenTable for Nokia Is Now Available for Symbian S60 5.0 touch DevicesWe are pleased to announce that OpenTable for Nokia is now available on Ovi Store by Nokia, allowing diners to reserve tables instantly and for free at thousands of restaurants in the UK, US, Canada, and Mexico. Key features include the ability to:

* Find restaurants around your current location with availability and book on the spot

* Refine search results by cuisine, price and points

* Read fresh and relevant reviews by recent OpenTable diners

* Manage upcoming reservations

* Send SMS messages with reservation details to the rest of your dinner party

OpenTable for Nokia is available for Symbian S60 5.0 touch device users residing in the UK, US, Canada and Mexico. Users of non-touch Nokia devices such as the Nokia E72 will be able to download the app in the coming weeks.

OpenTable for Nokia is the company’s latest smartphone application, following the releases of applications for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm.

Kelly Liken Talks ‘Iron Chef’; Marc Forgione Shows a Patron the Door; and More

Chefs in the news…

* Sacré bleu! Daniel Boulud (Bar Boulud) is planning a new NYC restaurant — and it’s not going to be French. [Eater]

* Marcus Samuelsson exits the kitchen at Aquavit. Officially. [Slashfood]

* Chefs of the future may not even have — gasp! — restaurants. I’m not sure that’s a world I’m ready for. [Eater]

* R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means to Dirt Candy chef Amanda Cohen. [Grub Street New York]

* Tom Colicchio (Craftbar), David Chang, Wylie Dufresne (wd-50), and Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin) walk into a bar…. Well, not really. They actually walked onto the set of HBO’s Big Easy-themed show Treme. [Eater New York]

* Colorado-based chef Kelly Liken, whose eponymous restaurant is highly regarded, talks about the mettle it takes to appear on “Iron Chef.” [NRN]

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